Chicago Cubs: Pitching prospects are starting to show up

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP

Jen-Ho Tseng was an international signing back in 2013 and made his professional debut the following season. In his first season in Single-A, Tseng appeared in 19 games (17 starts) and posted a 2.40 ERA. Along with that, Tseng walked just 15 batters in 105 innings pitched while striking out 85.

Following the 2014 season, Tseng was promoted to Single-A Advanced where he made 22 starts. In that time, the 20-year-old went 7-7 with a 3.55 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched. Once again, Tseng was promoted, this time to Double-A.

There, at age 21, Tseng made 22 starts and recorded a 4.29 ERA. In addition to his lofty ERA, Tseng struck out just 69 batters in 113 1/3 innings pitched compared to 32 walks. That low strikeout total and increased amount of walks resulted in a 13.8% strikeout rate and a 6.4% walk rate for the 2016 season.

With his worst professional season behind him, Tseng set out to right the ship in 2017. Beginning the season at Double-A, Tseng made 15 starts at that level. In that time, Tseng posted a 7-3 record and a 2.99 ERA. Along with that, the right-hander struck out 83 batters in 90 1/3 innings pitched, returning his strikeout rate to 22.1%.

After posting a sub-3.00 ERA for much of the season, Tseng was promoted to Triple-A. There, Tseng continued his dominance, posting a 1.80 ERA in nine starts.

For his efforts, Tseng was further promoted, this time to the majors. At 22 years old, Tseng made his major league debut on Sept. 14 against the Mets. Tseng started the game, but was pulled after allowing five runs over three innings. In total, Tseng racked up six innings at the major league level in 2017.

Outlook and ETA

Even after making his big league debut, Tseng is still considered a prospect and a pretty good one. Going into the 2018 season, Tseng is ranked in the top ten on the Cubs’ prospect list.

While the three pitchers before Tseng in this article have plus fastballs, Tseng does not. Instead, the youngster features a fastball in the low-90’s, but uses a mix of three other pitches to get outs. Tseng’s fastball, cutter, curveball and change-up all seem to grade as average, leaving a lot of room for improvement.

As mentioned above, Tseng grabbed his cup of coffee with the Cubs in 2017. That sets him up to become a bigger part of the 2018 team. I could see Tseng being used as a bullpen option at points in the season, serving as a multi-inning reliever. In addition to that, I think Tseng will see some work in the rotation in 2018. With the lack of a fifth starter at this point, Tseng looks like as good an option as any to help fill that role.